Review: Blue Nude

Blue Nude : A Novel

Blue Nude, by Elizabeth Rosner.
[rating:4/5]
It’s about a painter and a woman who models nude for art classes. He’s German, she’s Jewish. He has a studio in Point Reyes. She lives in The City. San Francisco.

I want to remember these passages:

I was married for a while, she says. To a photographer.

Danzig snorts at the idea. They always want to put frames around things, he says. They pretend they’re only telling you what they claim is out there in so-called real life, but really they’re getting in the way just as much as painters are.

And this:

His photos began getting smaller while the white linen mats around them kept getting larger, surrounding his images with more and more white space. Merav envisioned herself shrinking inside a vast blizzard and dreamed about Gabe building a house with empty rooms, windows too high to look out from. He said he framed things, people, so that he could make them more visible, believing even as he cut off its edges that he was making a thing more real, more seeable. She started wearing clothes in all the colors he couldn’t see to camouflage herself in his landscape, disappear in front of his eyes.

The walls of their apartment showed a collection of Merav in parts, close-ups of her feet, hands, hip bones, shoulder blades. The one exception lay in a single photo that showed her entire, taken from behind her back. In a wide-open field stood a wooden picture frame the size of a doorway, balancing upright as if by magic in the middle of nothing. And Merav was walking through it, her arms held out to her sides, her fingertips just brushing the edges of the frame. She was stepping out of it and walking away.

Blue Nude, by Elizabeth Rosner.
[rating:4/5]

Published
Categorized as Books

Review: A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, by Marina Lewycka.
[rating:5/5]

Now I see his energy is all redirected towards this woman and her son- they will become his substitute family. He can speak with them in his own language. Such a beautiful language that anyone can be a poet. Such a landscape- it would make anyone an artist. Blue-painted wooden houses, golden wheat fields, forests of silver birch; slow wide sliding rivers. Instead of going home to Ukraina, Ukraina will come home to him.

I have visited Ukraine. I have seen the concrete housing blocks and the fish dead in the rivers.

Lewycka’s short novel is the story of a woman whose elderly father (an immigrant from Ukraine) who falls in love with a young woman, Valentina (also from Ukraine) and marries her. The narrator has her doubts all along about the young woman’s intentions. They fight:

“Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?” I have slipped into the mongrel language, half English half Ukrainian, fluent and snappy.

“Ah-shamed! Ah-shamed!” She snorts. “You shame. No me shame. Why you no visit you mamma grave? Why you no crying, bringin flower? Why you making trouble here?”

The thought of my mother lying neglected in the cold ground while this usurper lords it in her kitchen drives me to a new pitch of fury.

“Don’t you dare to talk about my mother. Don’t even say her name with your filthy-talking boil-in-the-baggage mouth!”

“You mother die. Now you father marry me. You no like. You make trouble. I understand. I no stupid.”

She speaks the mongrel language, too. We snarl at each other like mongrels.

Another book I picked up in Canada. B.C. this time. The story weaves from discovery to discovery, her parents’ story in WW2 Ukraine, and the detective work involved in ridding Valentina (the other woman) from her father’s life:

The detective thrusts the envelope into her hands. Valentina looks confused.

“Divorce pepper? I no want divorce.”

“No,” says the detective, “the petitioner is Mr. Nikolai Mayevskyj. He is divorcing you.”

She stands for a moment in stunned silence. Then she explodes in a ball of fury. “Nikolai! Nikolai! What is this?” she screams at my father. “Nikolai, you crazy dog-eaten-brain graveyard-deadman!”

My father has locked himself in his room and turned the radio on full volume. She swings round again to confront the private detective, but he is alreadly slamming the door of his black BMW and driving away with a screech of tyres. She turns on Vera. “You she-cat-dog-vixen flesh-eating witch!”

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, by Marina Lewycka.
[rating:5/5]

Published
Categorized as Books

JPG Magazine

From JPG Magazine:

We’re the great in between: not quite amateur, not quite professional. Some do it for art, some as a kind of visual journal, some because they want to become a professional one day, and some just because we have to. It’s just what we do.

Here.

Submissions for the next issue will follow the theme “Oops!”

Published
Categorized as Books

Photo Books Show Two Different Iraqs

From PDN:

With the benefit of more time, two recent photo books have tried to show the war from new angles. They take fundamentally different approaches: one from the viewpoint of the American solider, the other from the viewpoint of the Iraqi citizens.

Here.

The books:


Published
Categorized as Books, War

Midnight Train to Warsaw

Though it won’t be published for another eight months, you’ve got to check out the preview to photographer Andrew Faulkner’s book, Midnight Train to Warsaw.